NASA advisory committee questions SpaceX’s unorthodox fueling process – Los Angeles Times

A NASA advisory committee has twice questioned SpaceX’s fueling process — a procedure that came under closer scrutiny after one of the company’s rockets exploded on a launch pad in September while being fueled.

The group’s concerns — expressed before and after the explosion — show ongoing doubt with the Hawthorne company’s unorthodox fueling practice as it plans to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Those worries, analysts say, aren’t likely to affect the company’s return to flight, though they could delay SpaceX’s timeline for manned space station trips.

A member of the International Space Station advisory committee asked Monday how NASA will evaluate the safety of SpaceX’s fueling procedure when astronauts are on board as part of the commercial crew program. This question was first raised in a letter in December 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, 10 months before the explosion that destroyed one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and a commercial communications satellite. 

The advisory committee provides recommendations to NASA on issues related to the International Space Station, including spaceflight safety, readiness of missions to the space station and crew health. Its recommendations are not binding.

NASA advisory committee questions SpaceX’s unorthodox fueling process – Los Angeles Times

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